Syria: Trump mulls pullout; IS attemps revival

10 April, 2018, 20:12 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • 'Netanyahu, Trump clash over Syria early withdrawal plan'

Bolton's presence in the West Wing and Trump's tendency to sway with the last person he talks to may be the strongest influence yet leading to USA troops staying in Syria. "That is our mission, and our mission isn't over", McGurk told the audience, citing two large pockets of ISIS fighters numbering several thousand men, and including ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Meantime, these advisers envision being influential in the eastern portion of Syria that borders on the Sunni-controlled portion of western Iraq to help stymie the forward movement of Iran and the Popular Mobilization Units in Iraq comprised mainly of Shiite fighters.

The U.S. -led coalition was set up in 2014 to battle Islamic State fighters in both Syria and Iraq, who were largely defeated previous year.

"A lot of great work's been done in Syria, very close to reaching an end state against the caliphate", said Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie.

Shortly before the meeting, Trump signaled that countries that want the U.S.to remain in Syria may have to pay for the continued military presence, singling out Saudi Arabia.

US and Kurdish officers had warned of an IS resurgence when Turkey attacked the town of Afrin in northwestern Syria in March to drive out the main Kurdish militia, known as the YPG.

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This photo provided February 2, 2018, by the Syrian rebel group Army of Islam, shows one of its fighters firing his weapon during clashes with government forces in Housh al-Dhawahira in the eastern Ghouta region near Damascus, Syria.

That's not all. A US withdrawal would create an Obama-style vacuum that would be filled by Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and the Assad regime. Other clashes between the two sides brought the government forces' death toll to 204 in 23 days, the Observatory said.

Mattis countered, arguing that an immediate withdrawal could be catastrophic and was logistically impossible to pull off in any responsible way, without risking the return of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in newly liberated territories, the officials said. The militants use bad weather, particularly dust storms, to cross the Euphrates, he said.

In order for ISIS to stay defeated without hope of reemerging to threaten people across the globe, the conflict in Syria must end and the country must be stabilized.

But they fear that an American withdrawal will leave them unable to hold on to much of that.

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If the Security Council fails to act then the Palestinian side could take the issue to the wider UN General Assembly, he added. Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters at UN headquarters in NY that the USA rejection is very irresponsible.

The further concern is the threat to other Trump administration goals, such as blunting Iran's influence in the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel "will not allow a regime hell bent on the annihilation of the Jewish state.to entrench itself militarily in Syria", and warned that if Iran tried to do so, Israel would act "not only against Iranian proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself".

It would also, they warn, cede the east completely to Damascus' allies Russian Federation and Iran, which have set up a series of bases in the country during seven years of war. Nonetheless, the officials said Trump was clear in his intent. Is the withdrawal from Syria a step back from that confrontation? "We've completed that task".

When asked what the USA has achieved for lives lost in Syria, the president reportedly repeated "nothing" over and over, according to officials.

Dillon, the coalition spokesman, said he would not speculate on anything that's going to happen in the future.

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The deadlock in Washington confirms that Trump still lacks the power to override ongoing Defense Department policies on Syria, University of Pittsburgh Professor of International Relations Michael Brenner said.

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